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What’s on in Paris this August

17 July 2015

Hotel Balzac Offers a Guide to the Latest Art Exhibitions in the French Capital

The City of Light is known worldwide for its enviable array of galleries, internationally renowned artworks and having inspired some of the most critically-acclaimed artists in history. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that its museums can boast some of the most intriguing, unique and avant-garde exhibitions this summer. From the surprisingly edgy world of stained glass, to an almost unknown photographer who studied at Chicago’s New Bauhaus, Paris is the perfect destination for art lovers this August.

Chagall, Soulages, Benzaken... Contemporary Stained Glass

Cité de l´architecture et du patrimoine

Until 21st September 2015

The curved yellow plants of Matisse and Le Corbusier’s geometric patterns aren’t the kind of artworks you’d expect to find replicated in stained glass, however Cité de l´architecture’s exhibition will surprise, inspire and ultimately impress with the scope contemporary stained glass design has to offer. Though the art form dates back as far as the 7th century, reaching its peak during the medieval era when window illustrations were used to teach the Bible, this 130 piece exhibition solely focuses on the post-World War Two era.

From 1945 onwards, designers and artists were brought in to repair the many war-torn buildings and later, create awe-inspiring artworks for both public and private commissions. The St. Barnard Collegiate Church in France, built between the 11th and 15th centuries, now features a six window George Ettl design that depicts the ‘Apocalypse’ using simplistic human forms, trumpets and red stilettos. While, a team of talented artists including Jean Michel Alberola used techniques including acid etching and copper foiling to create an array of colourful works for the Cathédrale de Nevers, including a vast panel covered in off-centre black and white illustrations of animals surrounded and sometimes partially covered in colourful vegetation.

Alongside the historic and religious, modern and civil architecture have also been enhanced by these naturally-lit masterpieces and the exhibition features an array of artworks from 84 buildings in total. Following a different path to their predecessors, the 30 artists featured pushed the boundaries of this centuries-old craft, learning and developing techniques to help spread abstract, impressionist and expressionist forms of art. With 50 eye-level sections, some originally created as test panels, alongside graphics and photos, this seven-section exhibition will leave any arts and crafts fan truly awe-inspired.

Nathan Lerner – Une donation

Musée d’Art Moderne

Until 13th September 2015

As a designer, Chicago-born Nathan Lerner produced an array of recognisable and influential works during his lifetime; from the charming Honey Bear bottle, to a co-developed machine that was used to bend plywood into iconic chair designs at the former ‘New Bauhaus’. However it’s his photography, a life-long passion that spanned decades that takes centre stage at the Musée d’Art Moderne this summer. Showcasing 230 of his photographs donated by wife Kiyoko Lerner, the free entry exhibition will highlight both his ability to capture the real life and embrace the experimental.

Born in 1913, Lerner dedicated the first thirty years of his life almost entirely to the study of painting, photography and sculpture. At 16, he initially used photography to assist with art compositions, but soon started to experiment, using double exposure in the ‘Girl With Two Faces’.  During his time at the New Bauhaus from 1937, his inspirations turned to the abstract and he is credited with developing the light box, a rectangular box with holes that’s still used as a study tool to this day, while László Moholy-Nagy also claimed he was the inventor of the ‘montage without scissors’.

As well as having an immense creative talent, Lerner is perhaps most famous for his ‘Maxwell Street‘ series. Taken between 1935 and 1938, each image depicts one of the poorest immigrant neighbourhoods in his home town during the Great American Depression, a time of struggle that he also captured in Southern Illinois, New Mexico and San Francisco during 1936. He returned to taking inspiration from the everyday in 1943 while working for the US Navy in New York and then again from 1970 onwards during visits to Japan, Mexico and Europe, which also saw him experimenting with colour for the first time. From historic documentation to innovative ideas, Lerner’s extensive portfolio, which includes images never seen by the public before, will make fascinating viewing.

The Spirit of Montmartre and Modern Art, 1875 – 1910

Musée de Montmartre

Until 13th September 2015

A mere mention of Montmartre and even now, the image of top hat wearing aristocrats and struggling artists sitting side-by-side to watch Moulin Rouge dancers in frill-trimmed petticoats may spring to mind. Known as the Parisian centre of bohemia at the beginning of the last century, with ‘Chat Noir’ posters peeling off the walls and discarded absinthe bottles on the floor, the area was most likely even more outrageous than you’re imagining... and the Musée de Montmartre is offering the chance to confirm that suspicion with a 350 piece exhibition.

As a hotbed of artistic talent, from painters and performers to respected writers, Montmartre soon became the home of the anti-establishment, complete with its very own satirical art movement, The Incohérents and literary club The Hydropathes. It’s this spirit and the importance of the area to the Parisian avant-garde that the exhibition explores using both artefacts and artwork. From a print advertising the Cabaret des Quat’z’Arts to Eugène Battle’s illustration of the Mona Lisa smoking a pipe, each piece helps to paint a vibrant picture of lives filled with creativity, innovation, humour and intellect.

A replica of Suzanne Valadon’s studio offers an additional level of enlightenment, with easels and frames scattered along the floor and artwork by her peers lining the walls. Her varied job roles included funeral wreath maker, Mollier circus acrobat and artist’s model until she picked up a paint brush herself and became the first female painter to be admitted into the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the excitement, and what could be regarded as anarchy, of Montmartre all those years ago at this unique exhibition.

With such varied focal points and inspirations, from Cathedral window displays to 19th century cabaret shows, Paris’ latest exhibitions are unmissable for anyone wanting to keep their finger on the art world’s pulse this August.


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